Sunday, 23 February 2014

The Effects of Exhaustion on Creativity.

I've spent a good deal of time thinking about the title of this post the last couple of weeks.  I've been ridiculously busy and not getting much sleep into the bargain.  While I'm still writing, I have found the more busy and tired (and yes, a bit stressed) I get, the darker my work is becoming.  RR and I have often discussed the effects our personal lives have on our characters and the situations we put them in.  Anger, depression, and frustration lend their own flavors to any writing done when in the throes of those emotions.

Normally, when I'm too long without sleep, I simply put writing aside.  I think I will experiment with continuing on to see what happens to my characters.

Also, enough with winter.  Just sayin'

Winners and words!

My winner this week is AJ Humpage with The Man Who Would Be King:  I love stories that look at a well-covered subject from a different point of view.  This had a wonderful flow to it.

Second place this week goes to Zaiure with Proof of Deed:  I could almost here the Countess sputtering.

And now, the tome seems to have made the trip back to New England quite well and has brought forth new words.

Gutter
Music
Souvenir
The usual rules apply: 100 words maximum (excluding title) of flash fiction or poetry using all of the three words above in the genres of horror, fantasy, science fiction or noir. All variants and use of the words and stems are fine. You have until Friday evening.

Feel free to post links to your stories on Twitter or Facebook or whichever social media best pleases you and, if you like, remind your friends that we are open to new and returning writers.



41 comments:

  1. I knew, when I read it, that AJ's HAD to be the winner this week. Such crafting of words into something different and haunting. Congratulations, AJ and Zaiure, too, brilliant writing.
    Good words for the Captain to mull over this week.

    Asking again, if you have the inclination, any of you! hop over to Horrified Press and check out my open calls, remembering there I am Dorothy Davies, not the softer Antonia name, seeking submissions for a whole range of anthologies, including a charity one, called The Ripple Effect. ebook only, all proceeds to go to Greenpeace who are working hard to counteract the ripple effect scientists keep ignoring and wanting to start with their strange and wonderful ideas. All the other anthologies are a paying market, for a change.

    I tell all my authors about the Challenge, both in my weekly mailing and individually, hoping they will come on board. Can but try...

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  2. Congrats, AJ and Zaiure, wonderful stories.

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  3. Congrats AJ, and thank you! :)

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  4. Adoration

    She found them welcoming in the filthy gutter. Their admiring cries were music to her ears; never mind their grimy hands, as they fingered her silken dress and red-gold hair.

    “So pretty! So fine! A queen she is.”

    Her kohl-darkened eyes glowed feverishly, as she gave them her brightest smile. They didn’t see the tears in her clothes or the moth-eaten lace. To them, she was the lady she was meant to be! Euphoric, an empress among her subjects, she let them press closer, the better to hear their words of praise.

    Bliss fled, as they took their first souvenir.

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    1. A sad, sad simpleton, certainly, but so beautifully evoked, even though then ending is so raw.

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    2. meant also to say well done on runner up last week!

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    3. This reads like a dark fairy tale, and like the original Grimm's, it is both brutal and tragic.

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  5. My initial sense here was that whoever she is, she's mentally ill. The final line brought almost a sense of sadness and betrayal. I love the flow, the smoothness of this. Really nice work. Thank you.

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    1. Stirringly poignant and great final line.

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    2. simplicity is sometimes everything and here it depicts such sorrow so smoothly.
      Oh hell, much too much alliteration there... sorry, liked it a lot...

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  6. Thank you Antonia, Olivia, and congrats too, Zaiure.

    Souvenir

    Neon fingers tickled the rain with a soft cerise glare. Footsteps and voices parried against the night while music undulated in the distance.

    His broken guitar lay beside him, its hollow full with needles and junk and soggy bits of food. Maybe a penny or two. A souvenir of the past.

    Dreams of fame and fortune drifted into a tormenting blackness, along with memories of home, as the drugs clouded his senses. The needle slipped from his fingers.

    Trapped in his cage of lights, he bowed to his crowd from the gutter.

    And the raindrops came down all the same.

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    1. That 'gutter' has certainly set the tone so far! Love the hollow guitar full of needles.
      And congratulations on last week's win - well deserved.

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    2. Sadly, I have personally seen more than one talented musician come to this. You captured it perfectly and beautifully. Thank you.

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    3. sad beautiful portrayal of talent wasted and lost. Brilliant.

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    4. Definitely sad and beautiful, with so many lovely lines! Loved the picture painted by the first line, and loved 'footsteps and voices parried against the night' from the second.

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    5. This hits home for me, as I've lost a friend or two to that needle. This is beautifully wrought, full of the sorrow of lost potential.

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  7. Post-death experience

    The flies were already making comb and paper music as he led me past the pile of bloody bodies, my eyes unable to avert. ‘Are you just going to leave them?’
    ‘Is what they’d’ve done had it been me... Did you want a souvenir?’
    No!... but I need to rest.’
    The big house?’
    ‘Empty, parents away.’

    I cooked as they had had me do the past two days. Then a storm blew out the power.
    ‘Where to sleep?’
    I showed him to a room next mine, but as the candle guttered and went out he came and lay with me.

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    1. I love "comb and paper music". It's the perfect description for that sound! The dialogue has a really nice flow, and the final line is a great hook! Thank you.

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    2. chilling and wonderful descriptions to make it so!

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    3. Definitely a great hook with the final line. I couldn't decide if it was slightly threatening or she appreciated the potential comfort. Very interesting world created here.

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    4. I loved the transition from raw carnage to domestic simplicity. The fact that it held the edge of captivity past made it stronger. The last line was both lovely and frightening.

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  8. A change of focus [76]

    Mildred Jones’ gibbering panic would be music to Vanessa’s ears. Pity it was him she’d phoned, screaming for assistance. At 3a.m.
    ‘Call the station.’
    ‘It has to be you.’ Voice then choked off.
    ‘Mildred?’
    Another voice: ‘Better come, Petzincek. Or I send a souvenir...’
    Bloody Goren! John sighed, ‘I don’t need –’
    ‘Maybe not, but woman wants to keep her fingers...’

    Face to antagonistic face, grammar courtly, vocabulary guttersnipe, John outlined, in fluent Khakbethian, damning information received from Raptor. Mentioned names. ‘I decide your boundaries – you remain within them.’
    Stone-faced, Goren backed down.
    Mildred elevated John to hero.
    Job done.

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    1. There is a tidiness about this that's just lovely! I could hear the varying tones in the dialogue. Last paragraph is a treat! Thank you!

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    2. truly a treat, yes! There's a sense of precision in the writing that carries it ever onward to that two word last line.

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    3. Definitely a nice, precise flow to this. Loved the line 'Mildred elevated John to hero'. Well said. :)

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    4. Wow! So, so much happens in such tight lines, and I really enjoy John finally having the upper hand on someone. Two someones, in fact.

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    5. Getting this one writ took a great deal more effort than usual so your kind comments are much appreciated - thank you all.

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  9. Take Down

    Laveau’s words were music to my ears. Seth reached for the jar in my hand. Almost too late, I batted it away.

    “No! Help her. I’ve got this.”

    For once he actually listened. As I steeled myself, one mark flared. I howled in pain, launching myself forward. She dropped her hand, her power guttering, as I plowed into his chest, driving us both to the ground.

    “Thanks for playing, douche bag. Here’s your souvenir.”

    Grinning down at him, I shoved the bottle into his open mouth, slamming my other hand under his chin. Teeth and glass shattered onto his tongue.


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    1. Sheer brutality, to a horrific, vivid degree - that final para. definitely of the "look away now" type. Well done!

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    2. oh yes. On Linkedin they are having a discussion about 'glorifying violence' in our writing. Nothing glorious about this, it's straight kill or be killed, which is what it all comes down to in the end. Great writing

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    3. Brutal and fast-paced. They never seem to slow down do they! :) Well-phrased final line.

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  10. 45.
    Damn me if I didn’t take these seadogs out of the gutter onto the Infinity, where the wind in the sails be like music in their ears and the booty they get be the souvenirs they go home with - if they live that long - and all the time now they be like the living dead, do their job and then stand until the next job is given them.
    I do wonder what great crimes I committed before and now to bring this infernal journeying into existence. I could have stayed home. I should have stayed home.

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    1. Oh, Antonia - you've done it again! So smooth and bitter spake the Captain; such a melancholy man, bred for pessimism. I find myself wondering about his wife, whether she's happiest when he's away at sea, or whether he becomes a pussy-cat when he returns home. You've truly built a character in him.

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    2. Each entry is very true to the Captain's voice. His emotions always come through.

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    3. There is such tired resignation in this, but I don't really think he could have stayed home. Or rather, I think that he is home, even if he doesn't much like it.

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    4. I agree with RR. The Captain sounds tired and resigned here. It's a beautifully woven piece. I find myself at that place in my head now, where I am torn between not wanting the story to end, and needing to find out how it does. Thank you.

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  11. Full Circle

    Like a marionette, I lurched toward Marie.

    “Nothing I need from you, cher.” She waved her hand, cutting my strings. I fell, twisting in time to see Nate slam into the priest.

    Screams overlaid music I knew well – a lullaby of childhood, a spell of protection. Free, my mother’s spirit tore through his, burning his essence in a final act of retribution.

    Her ghost appeared, young and beautiful. “One last souvenir, bébé.” Icy kiss from insubstantial lips seared like fire. I slumped, gutter fallen, rain washed, a new mark throbbing just behind my ear.

    Nate coughed blood, then was still.

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    1. Read this four times over - not a word wasted; in fact, a marvellous illustration of what words can do - this is so very, very good on so very many levels. Thank you.

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    2. At I had told you earlier, dear, this is perfect from end to end. Exactly what I pictured happening after Nate did his thing. Can't wait to find out what the new mark does. LOL. Really beautiful piece. Thank you so much!

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    3. Oh oh, what next... so tightly written, so driven onwards, I need to know what happens next!!

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  12. Having slipped my own entry in last-minute, I am now closing the gates. Feel free to continue commenting. New words and winners tomorrow!

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